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It Is All About The Crust

This is the worlds best pie crust! It is an old fashion lard crust that is perfect for savory pies or any pie that has a long bake time. You can add fresh or dried herbs to the pastry... the flavor combinations are endless! It freezes well, and it really is simple to make and easy to use. I have made pastie-like treats for myself using just about any kind of left-overs. I have used this crust to top a ramekin full of extra thick chicken and vegetable goodness, [my fantastic version of a potpie.] I like using the edge scraps to take the shape of one of my cookie cutters to garnish the tops of whatever pie it happens to be at the moment. I always experiment by egg washing the pastry scraps and dusting them with things like paprika, turmeric, dry mustard, etc. It gave interesting character to the poinsettia flowers I used to garnish the meat pies on Christmas eve. I threw a couple of mustard seeds in the flower centers. It was great! Yield: 1 crust.
1 1/3 cup unbleached flour

1/4 cup lard

1/4 cup ice cold water

4 teaspoons of cider vinegar

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt (use regular table salt - fancy salts are not recommended for this recipe.)

Cut lard into 1/2" pieces and put them on a plate in the freezer. The goal is to have the lard be at least semi-frozen. This will ensure that the dough doesn't get over processed and will result the flakiest crust ever! I usually like to measure all of the dry ingredients in the bowl of my food processor. Pulse dry ingredients making sure all of the components are mixed evenly. Put the entire bowl in the freezer. After everything is very cold put the bowl on the processor and add the cubes of lard. Pulse once or twice to evenly coat the cubes of lard in flour. Add 4 teaspoons of cider vinegar to the 1/4 cup of ice water. While hitting the pulse button slowly drizzle the liquid into the feed shoot. Continue to pulse and pause, pulse and pause, just until the bulk of the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl forming a loose ball. Remove pastry onto a sheet of plastic wrap and fold the plastic over the dough. Form into a flat round disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap a place covered dough into the freezer. Freeze the pastry for at least 1/2 hour. Remove dough onto a generously floured board and pound out the dough 3-4 times with a floured rolling pin from right to left, or left to right which ever direction you prefer to go making sure to keep the dough in a fairly round shape. Lift the dough and rotate a quarter turn. Pound the dough again in the same manner. Quarter turn the dough again and start rolling from center to top then from center to bottom. Then center to left and then center to right edge of dough. This method will ensure that the dough rolls out evenly round. Quarter turn dough again and continue until you reach your desired shape.

Place rolling pin across the center of the pastry and fold half of the dough over the rolling pin. Using the rolling pin the ease the weight of the dough lift the pastry and slide a pie pan under the dough centering the pie pan. Roll the crust off of the pin carefully to completely cover the pan with the pastry. Gently lift the outermost edge of the pastry easing the dough in the pan to form in onto the sides of the pan until the pan in evenly lined with the pastry. Ultimately you will want to trim the bottom crust 1 inch from the edge of the pie pan.

Fill the crust with you favorite sweet or savory filling and prepare the top crust in the same way. Using the rolling pin method place the top crust over the entire pie encasing you filling. Trim top crust to 1 inch over the outer edge of the pan. Lifting the bottom crust slightly off of the edge of the pan roll under a two inch section of pastry tucking the top crust under the bottom. Continue all the way around the pie and press edges with a fork, flute the edges, or what ever it is you do but, remember to cut steam vents into the top of your pie. You may want to brush the top with a wash of 1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons of water. This will help hold sugars, salts, spices or seeds in place as the pie is baking. I almost never egg wash any of my pies.

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